The latest addition to the Black Panther range is this 13"x6" brass-shelled snare. Developed with much input from Living Colour stickman Will Cahoun, its name alludes to Will and Mapex's desire to produce a drum ready to accompany its player on any number of musical journeys.
Built around a 1.2mm thick brass shell with 45° bearing edges, the drum weighs in at a hefty 4.6kg. The shell is brushed and plated with a combination of copper (the light central band) and black nickel, and adorned with West African Adinkra symbols representing life transformation.
Mapex's Sonic Saver hoops and the impressive Black Panther cylinder drive snare release and complementing butt end are fitted. Whilst the hoops and tension rods are darkened with nickel plating, the double-ended tube lugs and snare tensioning components shine out in chrome.
At R&D stage, Mapex tried ageing a shell for three years before dressing it (Will still plays this drum). Mapex has used its manufacturing nous to pre-age the production drums to emulate the look and feel of this first prototype.
Brass is to snares what a chopped chilli is to a plate of food - it turns the sensory dials up a few notches. At mid-tension the snare is bright, warm and crunchy with effortless projection. The 13" diameter ensures a razor-sharp response whilst the 6" depth brings with it fullness of note.
Lowering the tuning further brings an even more tangible thickness to the proceedings - here it's wide enough to drive a power ballad, but the zesty edge so characteristic of brass remains in evidence.
Similarly, cranking up the tension rods heightens the pitch without thinning out the note - it's both funk-tight and rock-hard and could slot straight into a point where the two genres meet. Cross sticking taps out a hard and assertive clonk whilst rim-shotting is rewarded with a drenching of sweet metallic overtones.
At the other end of the dynamic scale brushwork is equally well catered for; the natural, open sound perfectly illuminating the most delicate of strokes.